Getting off-the-beaten-path and back in touch with nature in Vietnam is easier than you may think thanks to Glamping Hub! Glamping Hub is the biggest marketplace in the world for unique outdoor accommodations, many of which are sustainable. I was invited to see a less traversed side of Vietnam and ventured out to the central Dak Lak to glamp. Here are 5 things you’ll love about Lak Tented Camp.
After exploring Mui Ne and Dalat it’s an easy ride inland to the Dak Lak region in Vietnam’s central highlands. To reach Lak Tented Camp you can fly to Buon Ma Thut which is just an hours drive from the glamping site. It’s also possible to arrive at Dak Lak from around Southeast Asia by bus or train.
When I left New York City 3 ½ years ago I would have audibly laughed at you if you asked me if I wanted to go camping. Back then glamping (glamorous camping for those of you that aren’t in the know) was still a relatively new concept. While I’m still not the type to get too excited over pitching a tent and sleeping on the ground I am all about an upscale camping experience. I’ve glamped quite a lot over the last few years in some exciting places such as the Moroccan Sahara Desert, in Sri Lanka, and in Brunei.
GLAMPING FACILITIES AT LAK TENTED CAMP
There are so many elements that make Lak Tented Camp special. Let’s start with the arrival. To reach Lak Tented Camp you must take a boat ride across the pristine Ho lake, talk about off-the-beaten-path! The glamping accommodation is located in a secluded area on the northern shore of the lake and is completely surrounded by incredible nature. There are fifteen tenths and 4 wooden bungalows which were built around the existing forest–no trees were torn down to accommodate the camp.
The first night at the Lak Tented Camp we stayed in one of the namesake stilted rustic tents. These aren’t your average camping tents though–they’re beautifully furnished with traditional design elements and decorated with all the necessary amenities–including a tea station and charging outlets. However, you’ve been warned that there’s no WiFi or air conditioning as the tents are fan cooled. The tent is complete with a cozy bed and mosquito net, wardrobe, a separate toilet and a solar-heated shower, and wood balcony with chairs that overlooks the lake. This was a lovely place to sit and watch the storm come in.
My visit to Lak Tented Camp was in mid-May at temperatures were skyrocketing so they were kind enough to move us into the upscale bungalows that are air-conditioned. While you won’t have the same outdoorsy experience here of being surrounded by chirping birds in the morning and feeling the cool breeze at night the bungalows are still just as cozy.
The luxurious wooden bungalows also each boast sweeping views of Lak lake from cloud-like canopy beds. The bungalow has two floors with a sprawled out living room on the lower level and a bathtub that overlooks like the lake and the master bedroom upstairs as well as a stone shower. Also decorated with local handicrafts the bungalow also has a western flush toilet and shower making this glamping accommodation far from roughing it.
WITNESSING THE WAY OF LIFE AROUND THE LAKE
At any point of the day, there’s something fascinating taking place on the lake–from tourists kayaking to local fisherman blowing my mind with their method of peddling their wooden canoes with oars attached to their feet! The fisherman are from the Mnong tribe, the indigenous people that live around Lak lake. All of the staff at Lak Tented Camp are Vietnamese and most are from the surrounding villages.
I had a chance to learn more about the unique culture of the Mnong people when the staff put on a traditional musical performance at Lak Tented Camp. The staff wore traditional dress and invited us to start the ritual by drinking can wine from long straws and a single gourd. The women are welcomed to drink the wine first, followed by the men in the community. The first folk dance is a welcoming ensemble performed by women, the second a dance thought to ensure a good harvest as it’s done in honor of the god of the land. During the rainy season, a dance is performed for the god of fire to keep things dry. The Mnong people are animist so every tree, mountain, animal, food, etc., has a god. All of the instruments used by the Mnong people are made of bamboo including percussion and string pieces. The final dance is to celebrate the end of the harvest which usually coincides with a joyous festival and dances to ask for a lucky harvest in the following year. After a beautiful song that blesses the house were invited to join in on a circular dance that’s a cluster of steps and shouting–I had no idea what ritual I’ve just enacted, but I felt incredibly welcome.
CHASING WATERFALLS DEEP IN THE JUNGLE
Guests at Lak Tented Camp can partake in community-based tours with local guides such as trekking to waterfalls, bike rides to villages to learn about local crafts, kayaking, cooking classes, and more. I opted to go see waterfalls, of course. If you’re going to climb across the waterfalls like I did you better be safe and have a good insurance plan from World Nomads!
The Bin Bib Waterfall is about an hour trek through the Dak Lak jungle and coffee plantations. Our guides swore the path was only 2 km long but it felt much larger although it was relatively easy–the extreme heat is what kept slowing us down! Luckily the cool waters of the fall were waiting for us when we arrived. As we played in the freshwater our guides prepared a traditional lunch over an open flame including sticky rice in bamboo shoots.
LEARN ABOUT LOCAL AGRICULTURE
An abundance of produce is grown in the Dak Lak region from coffee to cacao. There are 250,000 coffee plantations in the area! Lak Tented Camp grows coffee and cacao and additionally operates a small organic farm on their own property where they grow many herbs, vegetables, and fruits. I spotted basil, spinach, chili, garlic, eggplant, morning glory, long beans, and more! Half of the ingredients they use at the Lak Tented Camp restaurant are farm-to-table from their garden while the rest are locally sourced. We learn that tamarind is traditionally used to get rid of bad spirits while lemongrass is used to keep snakes away. I was shocked to find out that banana trees are actually an herb and that each plant only produces bananas once.
We visited a local family that is known for their organic cocoa cultivation. Before they’d started growing the odd plant that gives us chocolate they were rice farmers but due to the climate in Dak Lak rice was not a stable plant to grow. USAID helped the family learn about cacao and they’ve had immense success ever since. It takes three years for a cacao tree to grow and the family here now has over 1,000! Comparatively, at Lak Tented Camp they have 300 young cacao trees.
I first tried raw cacao at Bali Eco Stay and loved the strange texture and sweet yet hearty taste. I was happy to get the chance to chow down on the superfood again and was delighted at the flavor of the fermented cacao drink they served us which was similar to a kombucha. The cacao grown here is sourced by Marou for their delicious fine chocolates.
BE AMAZED AT TRADITIONAL HAND-SPUN POTTERY
At the Mnong village, we were invited to watch a local artisan create stunning pottery using mud from the waterfall where we’d just frolicked. This style of pottery is unique to the area and is a skill passed down from one generation of women to the next.
What’s astonishing about their pottery method is that they do not use many tools–they hand spin the mud by walking placing it on a tree stump and then walking in circles as they form the desired shape. In less than 20-minutes a pile of mud has been miraculously turned into an intricate sticky rice jar. These handmade artisan pots are used at Lak Tented Camp and available for purchase–what a memorable and useful souvenir!
I absolutely loved my experience at Lak Tented Camp. They’re truly socially sustainable as they didn’t destroy the land where the property was built, they employ locals and pay fair wages, they’ve launched environmental education programs around Dak Lak, and are dedicated to organic growing methods. Throughout the camp, there are clearly marked recycling bins. The management at Lak Tented Camp was open to my feedback about eco-initiatives they should make to ensure their glamping site is truly eco-friendly and not just greenwashed. We discussed how they won’t truly be an eco-camp until they put a halt to using white sheets which must be bleached and banning single-use plastic like straws, water bottles, and takeaway containers for food during day-trips. I also hope that they’ll remove images of elephants being ridden from their website and stop offering this experience to guests. I’m confident that in the near future Lak Tented Camp will become a more eco-friendly retreat but it’s important to remember that glamping doesn’t necessarily mean environmentally sound.
Have you been glamping? Tell us about your favorite places in the comments!
I was a guest at Lak Tented Camp courtesy of Glamping Hub. This post contains affiliate links. Please read the Miss Filatelista disclosure policy for more information.